the story that drove me

I had a real run in with a child I deemed difficult for a good few months. I thought I had known difficult, I thought I had known challenge, I thought I knew compassion, and I thought I knew patience, but nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced living in Texas.  I had an inkling when I agreed to the job that something wasn’t quite right, that perhaps I had something to do with the family I lived with falling apart; not to say that it was my fault, but if it wasn’t for me, I don’t think a divorce would have even been an option. That experience in itself was completely alien to me and the battles I faced taking care of children whose parents weren’t ‘there’ was something else. From my own history, I knew what it felt like to have physically and emotionally absent parents, but I hadn’t really even thought about it much; it was something I buried a long time ago, for the sake of my own sanity, or so I believed.

As the weeks went by, it got harder and harder to handle one particular child. She had anger issues I had never come by; she would kick, scream, throw things, pinch, bite; you name it, she probably did it and mostly towards herself. It was heart-breaking to watch and personally at this point I had no idea how to handle anger myself because I had always been so afraid of it. I tried, and to start with the things I did helped massively; I couldn’t say I knew for sure how I did it back then though, I would have guessed that the stability, routine, discipline and care I provided was what made all the difference, but the angry outbursts just kept coming back. At first for a long time I had a good handle on it (her mother praised me a lot for it), but eventually, there came a point after her father left for good that I couldn’t handle it anymore. The struggles we faced in the morning from then on especially became too much for the both of us. Trying to get her up and ready for school was the most infuriating situation. I knew she was tired (because she often slept late and so hadn’t had enough sleep), but I hoped she would just get up. She didn’t and I felt like I was at war with this tiny human every single morning. I resorted to using force to get her dressed and I hated it. I felt like I was physically abusing her even though logically I knew I wasn’t. There were times that I reluctantly took her to daycare in her pyjamas or with no shoes on because I just didn’t have the energy to fight her. I started to forget things (which for me was unusual), so I would then have to sacrifice my valuable time off work to rectify my mistakes; time that had become so much more precious to me now. I can’t even explain how much my brain and my body were exhausted. I started to lose my temper more and more; I found myself starting to shout at her and at times fantasizing of seriously hurting her – not only during the times we struggled, but on every occasion she disobeyed me, challenged me or got upset. I had completely lost my cool. I had almost completely lost all my compassion and it got so bad I found it near impossible not to snap with not only her, but her sister too. I stopped wanting to play with them, talking to them or even being around them because the very sight of them made me want to literally want to kill them. At this point, despite how well I got on with my host family, I didn’t want to be around any single person in the family anymore. I just wanted to escape and for the job to be over. I obsessed over the second I would be away from them; to be free from the demons I now saw those children as. I hated them, and at the same time even more so, I absolutely hated myself. It took me every ounce of mental strength I had not to act upon the dark thoughts I was frequently having. I often felt terrified, extremely confused and so ashamed to have such brutal vivid images going through my head. I knew in my heart the last thing I wanted was to hurt anyone, and yet because the resentment I was experiencing was so intense, what I actually felt was quite the opposite. The internal battle I faced was a living nightmare. What kind of a person would want to do such horrific things to anyone, let alone a child? Generally speaking, I am not the kind of person who would even consider hurting a fly, but I was just so incredibly angry. I felt overwhelmed and so very lost, but most of all, I felt isolated and at the same time, suffocated. I was going crazy; in fact at this point in time I believed I was beyond crazy; that I had now actually become psychotic. I knew it needed to stop. It needed to stop before I did something I would regret for the rest of my life. I HAD to do something, but I didn’t know what. Somehow I still had enough control of myself to hold back my true rage and thankfully, I had enough power to prevent myself from doing any severe damage, just long enough to get help.

At first I turned to self help books, but it wasn’t until I found ACA (a 12 step recovery program for ‘adult children’) that things really started to change. It was there that I discovered the power of community and I at last learnt I was not alone. To hear other people had thoughts such as my own (sometimes what I deemed to be even worse) made me realize it was just an extract of rage; an internal reaction to a feeling of helplessness, a lack of control and an inability to regulate emotions I had been harbouring all of my life. I learnt that it was okay to imagine absolutely anything in my head, so long as I didn’t let the negatives become a reality. After all, they are just thoughts and everyone has them, even if they don’t usually speak of them. 

Over time I got to the bottom of why I had reacted in such a way. I came to understand that many of my behaviours were a reflection of my parents. That then made me become even more resentful of my father than I thought I was even capable of, but eventually I learnt to forgive him. And then the same happened with my mother, who I hadn’t even known (or to say accepted) had abused me. I came to understand it was all they knew. Generation to generation parents passed on their dysfunctional ways, for the most part without even knowing they were doing so because back then people simply didn’t have the knowledge we do now. My father had often told me he was doing his best and I couldn’t believe him, not until now. His best was by far not, and still is not even close to good enough to what I deserve, but at least I now know that as much as I don’t like it, at least this statement of his was actually the truth. ‘Parenthood’ changed my life. And I know officially I have never been a parent, but I for sure got as much of a realistic taster of being one. Officially, I was an au pair, but honestly I was just as much of a parent to those children as their actual parents were. If it wasn’t for that little girl, one of only three years old, I never would have found ACA so I could come out of denial. I likely would not have gotten my shit together and I certainly would not be teaching others to also become their very best loving self so the children in their care don’t have to go through the same shit we have thus far in the world. I thought I knew love. I didn’t, not really, not until I discovered ACA. The truth of what we encountered through childhood for sure can be scary, but let me tell you, there is nothing scarier than the effects denial can cause. 

~ I want to add that I hold no ‘ill feelings’ over any person mentioned in this blog. My Texan host family were wonderful (despite some of our differences) and I love them dearly to this day. The same goes for my parents, despite all the childhood trauma I experienced and the fact I now have no relationship with my father. ~


Are you ready to banish the daily stress, guilt & overwhelm so you can instead parent with love, calm and confidence?

2 Responses

  1. I was pretty pleased to find this page. I need to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and I have you saved to fav to see new stuff in your blog.

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